Yankees manager Joe Girardi had to be talking to himself on Friday night after an apparent double down the left field line by Eduardo Nunez in the fifth inning caromed off the knee of third base umpire Jerry Meals and bounded right to shortstop Ben Zobrist, limiting Nunez to one base.
There’s no doubt about the correct ruling. The umpire, even though he was standing foul territory behind third, is considered part of the field so any ball that hits him remains in play. The loss of the base may have cost the Yankees a run, since Derek Jeter followed with a single into shallow right that presumably would have moved Nunez to third and Nick Swisher followed with a long fly out to left that would have scored him with the tying run.
Of course, you can’t assume any of that would have happened, but that’s not the most interesting thing about the incident. Meals is the umpire that called Mark Teixeira out on the heavily disputed play that ended last Saturday night’s game against the Orioles.
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If Teixeira had been safe, and replays appeared to show that he was, the Yankees would have tied that game in the ninth inning.
The Yankees can take some solace in the fact that the Nunez shot off Meals knee had to really, really hurt, but Meals would not give them the satisfaction. Not only did he stay on his feet and rule the ball fair, but he resumed his stance and gave no indication that he was in any pain other than stoicly mouthing “Ouch” when the camera zoomed in on him.